From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Writing for the Ear

I recently submitted a piece to the group for critique. As the comments came back, they contained much of the standard fare:

“This is a run-on sentence.”
“Fragment, delete.”
“Consider rewording.”

And that is when it dawned on me for the very first time in my entire writing life: I do not write for the eye. I write for the ear. Whenever I read – or write – a story, in the back of my head I am constantly hearing the hum of the words as they lift from the paper and zing between my ears. I can hear my characters speak; I can feel their frustration, their angst, their undiluted joy held within the pauses, the stops, the crescendos of the words. Sometimes it’s not pretty. Because it exists in a place beyond the eye. The world is not shaded merely by black and white, and neither should our writing be.

This got me into considerable trouble when I was younger. No, Mom, I actually didn’t hear you calling me to dinner. You see, I was lost in the mist with Carl Sandburg as he ominously informs me:

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Can’t you hear that delicious alliteration? Can’t you feel the darkness deepening around you as it silently overtakes you, as it settles down around you, before you’ve even taken note?

Sure, you can write: “Mary ran outside to play.” That’s a fine sentence. Nothing wrong with it. Our gal Mary just wants to head on out and get some fresh air and sunshine. But if you write: “Mary ran outside. To play.” Hmm, now we’ve got ourselves a whole new situation. Was there another choice besides playing? Don’t you wonder: what was she doing before she ran outside? Why does the author feel he must inform us that she went out to play? There’s an implication in breaking the Rules for Writers contained in this sentence. There is more here than a sweet little girl and a dreamy day. There are things unsaid.

Conversely, run on sentences can be used to show enthusiasm, breathlessness, an overabundance of anxiety or anticipation. It’s called poetic license, and I utilize it liberally. I think Encyclopedia Britannica has captured the essence of it quite succinctly:

…The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables, and the sounds and modulations of the words themselves all affect the subtle meanings and feelings that the poet may be trying to convey or evoke. Poets may distort normal prose patterns for the sake of form and therefore assume poetic license…

Writing is about more than what meets the eye. Writing should encourage all of the senses to join in. When you read about a field of lavender, you should see the royal purple tide swell before you, smell the subtly spicy fragrance as the tender leaves succumb underfoot, feel your boot solidly moving amongst the stalks. And yes, hear the words as they fall down upon you, a sudden, unexpected but oh-so-sweet spring shower.

Writing for the ear may not be pretty on the page. But then again, it shouldn’t be.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Critique Partners: A Love and Hate Relationship

I don't know about you but a critique partner is a must in my world. I love and loath these meetings with my writing girlfriend. We both work so diligently to put our imaginary worlds down on paper. We agonize over all the details and are so invested in our characters, we become emotionally tied to their struggles as our own. Then, we give them over for that trusted friend to critique, caress, question, and annihilate. We lay our souls bare and hope we don't have to "kill any of our darlings".

I look forward to my meetings with my girlfriend with nervous anticipation. I know for a fact she's going to poke the sore spots, divulge the obvious glares and call me out on the contradictions and fabrications. I know these things need to be done to make my story better. But anticipation of the pain tends to exponentially increase the awaited outcome. When you don't know about the rock from the mower that is going to hit you in the back, as you lay comfortably on your lawn chair reading a book, it is less painful than the one you see flying at you from the spinning tire of the car, passing you on a walk.

Thankfully, my friend always follows her criticisms quickly with words of praise and appreciations of my plot twists. And, I know my turn for roasting her work will come soon. Mind you, that doesn't mean I take any pleasure out of pointing out the short comings in her work. In fact, there are times when I'm more energetic about the possible plots twists she could work into the story line than she is. Those instances she must talk me back to the path she intends to meander along.

If you don't have a critique partner to bounce ideas off of, you should. Having a creative sounding board is priceless. There have been numerous times we have spent hours hashing out story lines only to discover they don't work with the over-riding purpose of the novel. Had I spent the days writing, weeks waiting for my work to be reviewed by my writing group and agonizing sessions of editing the errors out of the story I would have been truly down trodden and desolate. However, in the space of coffee and doughnuts she and I have built and torn down several possibilities before settling on the most viable scenario.

But, be forewarned, the position of Critic is not for the the light of heart. Do not choose the love of your life, best friend or family member. Nor should you choose a candidate based on convenience sake. You don't want to wake up to blue Kool-aid Powder in the shower head due to retaliation from a loved one who didn't win the word war the night before. Similarly, you don't want that treasured friend to give you negligent feed back for fear of 'crushing your dream'. You want a true Critic, who will give you the good, the bad and the un-print-worthy. This must be a person of strong fortitude, willing to do battle over purpose and plausibility. They must be able to see the weakness in your writing AND help to make your story better.

It is easy to find fault in others, it is difficult to choose the path you intend to trod.

So I would like to say Thank You!
Not only to my friend Michele D. for the late evenings at my house with thing 1 and thing 2. But also, to my Sister for having the patience to put up with my neurotic schedule and delays between submissions. I know you're dying for the end of the story!
And lastly, to my writer friends here on Fiction Flurry for letting me in on the club. Without all of your input my story wouldn't be anywhere near what it has become.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review: Don't Breathe a Word

I recently had the opportunity to read Jennifer McMahon's new novel Don't Breathe a Word, which was released today.

"On a soft summer night in Vermont, twelve-year-old Lisa went into the woods behind her house and never came out again. Before she disappeared, she told her little brother, Sam, about a door that led to a magical place where she would meet the King of the Fairies and become his queen.

Fifteen years later, Phoebe is in love with Sam, a practical, sensible man who doesn’t fear the dark and doesn’t have bad dreams—who, in fact, helps Phoebe ignore her own. But suddenly the couple is faced with a series of eerie, unexplained occurrences that challenge Sam’s hardheaded, realistic view of the world. As they question their reality, a terrible promise Sam made years ago is revealed—a promise that could destroy them all."

I found this book to be incredibly captivating. I enjoy mysteries and I enjoy fairy tales, so this is an interesting mash-up of the two. Told in alternating chapters, there are essentially two storylines--what exactly happened the summer Lisa went missing, and the adventures of Phoebe and Sam fifteen years later.

This is certainly a dark book and things are never what they seem. There are so many twists and turns in the plot that it's impossible to get bored or, frankly, to put the book down at all. The characters are vivid and the mystery itself is well thought-out and complex. The story harkens back to the age of fairy tales and playing make believe, but the dark twist to it gives it a wonderfully unnerving quality.

I'm always drawn to covers, and this cover is absolutely gorgeous. It definitely sets the tone for the whole novel in the both innocent and haunted qualities of the girl. Another feature of the book I enjoy is the passages from the "Book of Fairies" at the beginning of each part. These passages offer an intimate look at the world Lisa believes in.

I truly enjoyed Don't Breathe a Word. If you're looking for a good mystery to read this summer, I would suggest you check out this one!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What Attracts You To a Book?

What are you reading right now and why? 

As a group of writers, we here at Fiction Flurry are always interested in what attracts readers to books.  If you read a book that's outside your favorite genre, what makes you select that book?  How do you go about picking your next read from the genre you like best?

For me, I'm first drawn to new works of authors whom I've already read.  I just purchased a hardcover, full priced Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks because she's one of my favorite authors.  I have a Nook e-reader and could have purchased the e-book for half the price, but since Brooks is tops on my list, I splurged.

Next in my hierarchy of book-purchasing selection criteria is genre:  historical fiction, literary fiction, mainstream fiction.  If I'm not familiar with the author, the cover better draw me in.  When I purchase an e-book, I've usually seen it in the bookstore first.  Otherwise, a recommendation from a friend who has similar taste in books usually is a good way to go.  When I'm in the mood to buy a book, I go to Good Reads to see what my friends recommend.

I would like to purchase more books by self published authors on my Nook.  What's the best way that you've found to search for titles by self published authors?  What kind of luck have you had with the quality of self published books that you've purchased? 

We'd love to hear from you about your book selection process.  What websites to you use to help search for the next perfect book?  What attracts you to a book?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Congratulations Spring Blog Hop Winners!

We are so pleased with the response to our giveaway.  THANK YOU for following Fiction Flurry.  Here are our winners:

Laura H. of Kansas, you win the Romance Bundle
Latishajean of Wisconsin, you win the Paranormal Bundle
Jessicas-Bookshelf of Utah, you win the Lovely Cover Bundle
Sarah the Hobbit of Pennsylvania, you win the Jodi Picoult Bundle
Kimmel Tippets, you win the Heavy Reading Bundle
Laurie Carlson, you win the Commercial Bundle
Rachel of Alberta, Canada, you win the Writers Bundle
Rebecca Shaw, you win the Non Fiction Bundle

Please check your e-mail for a message from Fiction Flurry so that we can get your snail mail address. 

If you didn't win, keep checking back with Fiction Flurry for more giveaways.  Better yet, sign up for new posts to be delivered to your e-mail address through our RSS feed. 

Thanks to all!

Spring Blog Hop Carnival is now Closed. Check back later today for winners!

Thank you all so much for participating in our giveaway.  To those of you who are new, welecome!  For those of you who have been with us a while, we're thankful for your loyalty.  Check back later today for the list of winners of the book bundle giveaways!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Welcome readers and writers, one and all, to Fiction Flurry!  Our blog contributors are members of a writing critique group in Marysville, Ohio.  The Fiction Flurry writers come from a variety of genres:  romance, paranormal, YA, historical, literary, and inspirational fiction.

We here at Fiction Flurry are so excited to participate in the Spring Blog Carnival that we have assembled for our readers not one, not two, but EIGHT separate giveaways.  Each bundle of books we have to offer comes from a different genre, just like the writers here at Fiction Flurry.

Here's a list of our Book Bundle Giveaways to eight lucky winners, to be announced May 9, 2011:

1.  Romance Book BundleMistress by Mistake and Damsel in Disguise by our very own Susan Gee Heino; His Expectant Ex by Catherine Mann; A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action by LuAn McLane; Heartbreakers by Lori Foster.

2.  Jodi Picoult Book BundleVanishing Acts and The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult, both hard cover.

3. Heavy Reading Book BundleLight on Snow by Anita Shreve; The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (both hard cover).

4. Paranormal Book BundleShadow Bound and Shadow Fall by Erin Kellison; Blood Law by Jeannie Holmes; Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead.

5. The Writers Book BundleThe Wealthy Writer by Michael Meanwell; Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True by Elizabeth Berg.

6.  Commercial Fiction Book Bundle:  Oh My Stars by Lorna Landvik and The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd.

7.  Non-Fiction Book Bundle:  Why We Fight, Why We Need Love, and Why our Decisions Don't Matter, edited by Simon Van Booy; Everything Is Going To Be Great by Rachel Skukert.

8.  The Lovely Cover Book Bundle:  The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe and The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (both hard cover).

Here's how to enter for a chance to win one of our bundles:

1.  Be a Follower of Fiction Flurry 
2.  Leave a comment including your e-mail address and tell us your favorite fiction genre.

Though not a requirement to enter for the giveaway, we would be so happy if you would subscribe to receive our posts via e-mail, become our friend on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!

A limit of two bundle winners can be outside the US/Canada.

Good Luck, and here's a listing of the other Spring Blog Carnival participating blogs...

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